The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. is concentrating on the right issues, working in concert with the right groups, and displaying a more professional presence.
All that's left is for more companies to notice the changes and find a way to become part of the process.
Don Duncan has been at SPI's helm for a year now, and he seems to have the trade association on the right course.
The exodus of members is over, leaving Washington-based SPI with a core of committed processors, machinery suppliers, compounders and others. (Although Basell NV, a major resin supplier, has joined SPI, most resin companies that quit during SPI's feud with the American Plastics Council have not returned. Neither have the composites companies that jumped ship for the Composites Fabricators Association.)
SPI has refocused its attention on issues that are important to its members: worker training, workplace safety, state government relations and the like.
Another good sign: The battle with APC is over, and the two groups are cooperating again.
When APC and SPI were squabbling, the one charge that stung — because it had a ring of truth — was that SPI was ineffective. APC members don't agree on everything, but that association's homogeneity makes it easy to settle on an agenda and reach a consensus. In comparison, SPI looked like the Keystone Kops driving off a cliff. The picture was simplistic and not really fair, but that was SPI's image just a few years ago.
Even then, SPI had a nucleus of good staffers and active members who did the heavy lifting that made the group's work important. Duncan has helped focus that effort, and he's brought a professional attitude and good communication skills to the job.
It's been a solid first year for Duncan. No doubt the slumping economy will slow SPI's momentum. But at least the group finally is moving in the right direction.